blending essential oils

blending your own perfumes

Perfumes were created in the past by blending essential oils, rather than the synthetic chemicals found in today's perfumes.

French perfumer, Charles Piesse, categorised essential oils and related them to a corresponding musical note.

However, it was William Poucher, who created a method of describing the individual components of fragrance as top notes, middle notes and base notes.

music for your nose

Most perfumes contain a blend of top notes (sometimes called head notes), middle notes (heart notes) and base notes (bottom notes).

top notes

Top notes are the ones that you immediately smell, and the ones that will fade first.

They add brightness to a perfume blend and stimulate the senses.

Top notes disappear to uncover the longer lasting middle notes.

Top notes include: citrus oils such as sweet orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit and bergamot, lemongrass, basil, peppermint, spearmint and petitgrain.

middle notes

Middle notes impart warmth and fullness to the perfume blend.

They reveal themselves a little later than the top notes and last longer, rounding the perfume out.

Middle notes include: black pepper, cinnamon, geranium, lavender, rose absolute and ylang ylang.

base notes

Base notes are what you will still smell after the top notes and middle notes have faded.

They are heavy and lingering and can sometimes last for several hours.

The base notes can also act as a fixative on the perfume blend, preventing the top and middle notes from evaporating as quickly, improving the staying power of a blend.

Base notes include: cedarwood, frankincense, patchouli, sandalwood and vetiver.

making your blend

take notes

Have a pen and paper handy to take notes, and write down everything you add to the blend, even if you are only adding one drop at a time.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate a blend relying on your memory alone.

Don't allow your first impression of a blend to influence you unduly.

Some blends work wonderfully after a couple of hours or even weeks.

This is why note taking is crucial.

select your oils

Take three oils, a top note, a middle note and a base note.

Uncap the bottles and wave them under your nose to get an idea of whether you may like the oils in a blend.

If you like the aroma, put a few drops of each oil into a small bottle.

Start with equal amounts of each oil to begin with because you can adjust the proportions later once you have an overall impression of the blend.

Place the cap onto the bottle and warm it between your hands.

Shake the bottle gently, then smell your blend.

If you like the first impression, dip a toothpick or cotton bud into the blend, and allow it to dry for a few minutes.

Smell again after twenty minutes, and again after an hour, taking notes as you do so.

Remember that the top notes will fade first, and the bottom notes will not be evident at first sniff.

Your first impression may be very different to the impression you have later.

Adjust the blend if necessary, and keep smelling, taking notes every single time you add another drop of oil to the blend.

Remember that blends will smell differently on your skin than directly from the bottle.

Some perfumes will smell wonderful on one person and unpleasant on the next. It is an individual preference.

Your body heat can make your blend smell very differently.

rest your nose

Take frequent breaks in the fresh air, and your nose will work better to create the blend you are happy with.

Too much exposure and your nose will become tired, and find it difficult to detect small differences in blends.

Sniffing coffee beans is also an excellent way of clearing the nose, but don't let it replace a break in the fresh air.